Sophie Corbett is a journalism sophomore and Mustang News opinion columnist. The views expressed do not necessarily reflect those of Mustang News.
If you’ve been on Instagram in the last few months, then you’ve probably caught wind of the latest trend: infographics that discuss important social issues. If you’re not on Instagram, these aesthetically pleasing multi-slide Instagram posts act as mini PowerPoint presentations that serve as educational resources for a variety of topics.
Many people repost these infographics to their stories to share valuable information with their followers. Instagram infographics have become a resource for many and are changing the way young people share information.
While Instagram infographics are not new, they rose to popularity in the aftermath of George Floyd’s death and the resurgence of the Black Lives Matter movement as a way to quickly spread information to the general public about protests, racism in America and dismantling white supremacy. Aside from education, these infographics provided concrete ways for people to advocate for justice and get involved with the BLM movement.
Several months later, they’re still going strong. In fact, not a day goes by where I don’t see at least a handful of infographics that people I’m following have reposted to their stories.
While infographics originally became popular to spread information relating to the Black Lives Matter movement and anti-racist material, they now cover just about anything pertaining to social and political issues. In the past few days I’ve come across infographics titled “Explaining Why Black on Black Crime Doesn’t Exist.” “What is Toxic Positivity?,” and “Fast Fashion Is Killing Our Planet.”
One of the most popular infographic Instagram accounts, @soyouwanttotalkabout, which boasts a whopping 1.3 million followers, covers topics from plastic pollution to third party voting to the war on drugs.
Infographics have been instrumental in exposing people — especially young people — to issues they might not otherwise know about. College students are notorious for being apathetic towards social and political issues, and infographics are changing that.
Someone who doesn’t typically keep up with current events or research social issues might be much more likely to click on an infographic that a friend has shared to their Instagram story rather than a random news article.
Peer pressure is a strong motivator because let’s be honest, no one wants to be out of the loop. If all your friends are talking and posting about a particular issue, you’re going to want to know what’s up.
Infographics are extremely accessible. Not everyone has the time to sift through a hefty news article, and infographics offer an alternative to that. They’re short and to the point, they cover the basics of what you need to know and they usually take less than two minutes to read. They make learning about complex issues not as daunting. An Instagram feature that allows you to save posts also makes it easy to refer back to these posts in the future.
It’s easy to see why Instagram infographics have become so popular. Now that people are constantly reposting these infographics to their stories, it has become trendy to care about social issues.
In fact, this Instagram trend has been criticized for being too trendy, resulting in people reposting infographics just to hop on the bandwagon, not because they’re truly devoted to the cause. Even if someone shares an educational resource to their story for purely performative reasons, a follower of theirs might click on it and gain some genuinely valuable information.
Regardless of why you’re sharing something to your Instagram, you’re still spreading the message to a wider audience. While performative activism is problematic, in this case, it can still have a positive impact.
Now let me be clear: sharing a cute infographic to your Instagram story and calling it a day is not going to start a revolution. That’s where action comes in. But before action, comes education, and that’s where Instagram infographics come into play.
Many social issues are just too nuanced and complex to explore fully in one Instagram post, but it can be great for learning the basics and can be used as a jumping-off point for further research. Instagram infographics have been especially influential in spreading the word about particular issues among college students. While Instagram infographics are not going to solve the world’s problems, they just might educate young people who can.